Yesterday, I blogged on the efforts in the Louisiana legislature to rid the state of cockfighting. The fight in Baton Rouge is far from over, and the outcome is uncertain. But everyone agrees there is more momentum than ever to ban cockfighting. When that happens, and it appears inevitable, we will see dozens of cockfighting arenas torn down.
Cockfighting symbolizes the old Louisiana, and the elimination or repurposing of these facilities cannot happen soon enough. Cockfighting is a blight on the state’s reputation, and the stigma of cockfighting will be a drag on the state’s image for as long as the activity has the protection of the law ("fowl" are exempted under the terms of the anti-cruelty code). If cockfighting continues, it would not only remind people about barbaric treatment of animals, but also about corruption, regressive thinking and other negative impressions and stereotypes of the state.
The prospect of razing cockfighting arenas happens at the same time that the Louisiana SPCA has raised the roof on its new facility. The HSUS donated $2 million to the project, and we are proud to have played a part in its reconstruction, which has been led by Laura Maloney, the group’s outstanding executive director.
The Dorothy Dorsett Brown Louisiana SPCA Campus is a wonderful and important symbol of the progress and renewal that has ensued since Hurricane Katrina struck. Today, HSUS staff members Lou Guyton, Melissa Rubin and Bernard Unti attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Melissa was one of the speakers, and she emphasized The HSUS’ continuing commitment to the Gulf Coast region, which includes spay/neuter partnerships with veterinary schools and continuing support for shelters and other facilities working to recover from the disaster.
© The HSUS/Milani
The Louisiana SPCA’s Japonica Street facility was destroyed during Katrina. Fortunately, staff members were successful in evacuating all of the animals in their care. Ironically, the loss of the facility set the stage for the fulfillment of a longtime dream for animal lovers in the New Orleans area, many of whom have hoped for a shelter whose physical design would better accommodate its commitment to compassionate care and the cementing of the human-animal bond.
The Brown campus does this well. The animal areas are designed to minimize stress and bring in natural light. Six exercise yards allow volunteers and staff members to spend one-on-one time with the dogs. And adoptable cats occupy a kennel complete with soft bedding and a privacy area.
The new Louisiana versus the old Louisiana. Animal care centers versus cockfighting pits. In with the new, out with the old. All of us are a part of this cultural and economic transformation.